Where to Find Volunteer Placements UK
- Overseas placements through Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)
- Reach Volunteering for volunteers with specific skills (e.g. accountancy, information technology, law, management, marketing, mentoring)
- The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)
- The Volunteer Scotland website
- The Volunteering Wales website in Welsh language.
- Volunteering made easy on the https://do-it.org website
- Volunteering Matters (opportunities for disabled volunteers)
Note: Check the noticeboard of your local library services for other opportunities for volunteer placements in the United Kingdom or the local newspapers.
Volunteering for Young Adults
Young people in the United Kingdom can register for different types of volunteering placements through:
Extra Help from Jobcentre Plus
There are additional opportunities available through Jobcentre Plus for unemployed people who are looking for work experience and volunteering. You can also read more about the specific Jobcentre Plus help for recruiters that they offer through their volunteering and employment schemes.
Do Volunteers Have Rights?
As a volunteer, you would not have a contract of employment. Thus, you would NOT have the same rights as an employee or a worker. In most cases, you would get a volunteer agreement explaining:
- What level of training, supervision, and support you will get as a volunteer.
- The procedures and issues relating to health and safety.
- Whether employer or public liability insurance of the organisation covers you.
- What, if any, expenses the organisation will be covering while you are volunteering for them.
Note: A volunteer agreement is not compulsory and it does not form a contract between the volunteer and the organisation. Instead, it sets out some general expectations. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has further information on treating volunteers as employees and the risks involved.
Restrictions on Volunteers
Upper and Lower Age Limits
As a general rule, there is no upper age limit on volunteering. Even so, insurance policies for some organisations will not cover people under the age of sixteen (16) or over a specified age (very often 80 years old).
Note: Children under the age of 14 cannot work for a profit-making organisation (even if they do not get paid).
Local council authorities might also place extra rules relating to the work that young people can do. So, as an example, if the council decides a charity shop is a profit-making organisation you might not be able to volunteer there.
Note: Over 10,000 older people (50+) volunteer with Volunteering Matters each year across the United Kingdom through their Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP).
Volunteering and Claiming Benefits
As a rule, you will be able to become a volunteer and still claim DWP welfare benefits, providing you:
- Continue to meet all the qualifying conditions of the welfare benefit that you are getting.
- Only receive money from volunteering to cover your expenses (e.g. travel costs).
Depending on the offence committed, you can still volunteer in most roles even if you have a criminal record. But, to volunteer with children or with vulnerable adults you may need to comply with a Disclosure and Barring Service check.
Volunteer Payment and Expenses
Even though you do not get paid for time as a volunteer you might get some money to cover your expenses. As a rule, it will be limited to drink, food, travel or any specialised equipment that you need to buy.
Getting back more money than you spent means you may need to pay tax on driving expenses. HM Revenue and Customs produce guidance notes to check if you need to pay tax on mileage payments as a volunteer driver.
Some volunteers might get other payments, benefits in kind (BIK), or rewards. In this case, you could get classed as having employee status or worker status – rather than a volunteer. It might also include a promise of a contract or doing paid work in the future.
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
Apply for a Public Appointment
You can search the public appointments website to find voluntary or paid positions with public bodies. You might get a public appointment with a national museum or a specialist advisory council.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service
The ‘QAVS’ is an award for outstanding achievement. In fact, The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to groups of volunteers throughout the United Kingdom.
Volunteer as a Magistrate
The process of becoming a magistrate does require applicants to have any formal qualifications. But, there are restrictions on who can and cannot apply to volunteer as a magistrate.
Volunteer for the Coastguard Rescue Service
Volunteers help to make up the Coastguard Rescue Service carrying out search and rescue missions along the shoreline. Find out how to volunteer as a coastguard and what to expect from the role.
Volunteer to Aid Humanitarian Disasters
There are ways to donate and volunteer to aid humanitarian disasters or to humanitarian emergencies overseas by giving money, time, and skills.